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Darkglass B7k Ultra VS Sansamp BDDI + Boss ODB-3 combo

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by DeadbeatLine, Dec 8, 2017.

  1. DeadbeatLine


    Nov 13, 2013
    Hey all! Long time user of the sansamp BDDI + Boss ODB-3 together as a combination, used to get modern grindy/clanky tones. (Think Periphery, Karnivool, Tesseract, 'Stone' by Alice in Chains, etc).

    Now I know the ODB-3 often gets a lot of hate but for me its honestly been the best pedal for achieving that tone, I used my sansamp as a preamp to set my 'clean' tone, and then into the ODB-3 for meaty grind. However, just like pretty much every bassist who plays within a similar genre, Darkglass has caught my eye.

    Specifically, the B7K Ultra. I love the idea that using it I could also get my distorted tone DI'd, and it should essentially be able to replace my two pedals with a single unit (of possible higher quality than both). However, I am quite concerned with the lack of an EQ for the drive section, instead its all entirely based upon what you set your 'clean' section too.

    Any insights, opinions or comments are welcome!
    RexxRokket, zapped777 and gregmon79 like this.
  2. cataract

    cataract Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2007
    Columbia SC
    I'd say that the B7KU is a next level device, compared to the BDDI & ODB-3. Even outside of comparing, really. It's just the perfect tone shaper for me and a real pleasure to use.
    Personally, I think the EQ stigma attached to the Ultra is a bit unwarranted. I've only ever worked around any hardware induced "limitations". Any pedal with two separate channels will have this situation arise (I'm looking at YOU, Rusty Box!)
    It simply wouldn't be possible for the builder to jam another EQ section consisting of another set of 3 or 4 knobs or switches into an already packed tight aluminum enclosure. Having to be creative to find workarounds when it comes to tone seeking is part of why I love messing with effect pedals!
    My solution's been to run the Ultra with both channels On, set fairly "clean" with a B3K in my chain just prior, set to filthy- in case I absolutely need that little extra dirrrrt (it's actually not a little but a whole lot, semantics)
    zapped777, DeadbeatLine and Fuzzbass like this.
  3. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I had used the SansAmp BDDI, then RBI, for decades. Then I got a B7K (and then B7KU), and that became my tone for hard rock/metal. I like variety and use a number of pedals for rock, but the B7K/B7KU is my favorite, hands-down. The B7K sizzle works perfectly through my tweeterless Bergantino NV610 cab, which delivers the Ampeg 8x10 tone in a smaller/lighter box.

    That said: you mentioned Karnivool, so I must mention the Darkglass Alpha Omega (or its little brother, the Alpha Omicron). Jon Stockman collaborated with Darkglass in the A/O design process. I owned an A/O and then traded it away -- not because I didn't like it, but simply because the B7K works better for me. I play classic heavy metal, rather than modern metal such as Karnivool. (But last I checked Nolly Getgood was still using the B7K, so there's that).

    I understand your concern about not having separate EQ for clean and dirty tones, but as cataract said that would require either a larger pedal with more knobs, or programmability... and I prefer the Ultra as it is. As food for thought, I typically use my B7K Ultra the same way I used my B7K non-Ultra: dirt-with-EQ, or bypassed entirely. I typically use my amp EQ for my clean tone... although there have been some gigs where I've toggled the Distortion switch rather than the Bypass switch.
    cataract likes this.
  4. CoarseBass


    Dec 28, 2002
    For the record, the Ultra EQ is post drive, meaning it will impact the blended drive/clean signal when drive is active. Based on OP, it sounds like the thinking is the drive would only impact the clean portion of the output; this isn't how it works.
  5. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Just to make things clear, the Ultra has three basic settings:
    1. bypassed
    2. clean channel - eq without distortion
    3. dirty channel - eq and grunt/attack switches with distortion

    The EQ, including mid frequency switches, is post-distortion as you said, and affects both the clean and dirty channels. The 3-position grunt and attack switches are pre-distortion, and only affect the distortion channel. So, it is possible to some extent to eq the distortion channel without eqing the clean channel.

    Attack switch: hi mid boost, flat, hi mid cut (some consider it low treble rather than hi mid....)
    Grunt switch: bass boost, flat, bass cut
    cataract likes this.
  6. DeadbeatLine


    Nov 13, 2013
    Thanks all for your extremely useful replies! In the band I play in, I usually try to have my 'clean' tone EQ'd quite a bit warmer than my bitey distortion tone which is why I had my concerns about not being able to EQ the distortion channel seperately, however, the distortion on these Darkglass pedals seems to be so good that it doesn't seem to be an issue for most people anyway, plus as some have mentioned I didn't realise the grunt and attack switches only affected the distortion channel. I might have to track down a friend with one and have a go and compare it to my current set up!

    Alternatively, thoughts on running the Sansamp into the B7K ultra (with the B7K Ultra being used as essentially a distortion?). Any opinions? I play through a jazz bass (occasionally Precision too) into a SVT-2 Pro and have had comments in the past telling me I don't actually need the Sansamp as it emulates a tube SVT but I've found using it as a preamp with the SVT actually gets me an even better fuller tone.
    Fuzzbass and zapped777 like this.
  7. DeadbeatLine


    Nov 13, 2013
    Also, opinions on the B7K Ultra Vs the Alpha/Omega? From listening to a few YouTube demos the B7K seems to have more bite, but the A/O seems to have more low end? I lean slightly towards the B7K as I reckon it could be EQ'd to make up for that slightly lesser low end.
  8. SerratedBass


    Nov 4, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Warwick Bass Guitars,
    I've had great results running a B7K in front of a Sansamp. Was never quite satisfied with only using the B7K on it's own, but that's more a measure of how used to the Sansamp tone I am, and find anything else doesn't feel right. They partner up great though, and having the additional EQ of the B7K over the B3K helps, just more flexibility.
    RexxRokket likes this.
  9. Igotsoul4u


    Nov 3, 2011
    B7K would be ideal for the tone of the bands you mentioned. I think its the best metal/rock bass tones pedal out there IMO. The distortion is not out of control and fizzy. The switches allow for a fairly wide range of tonal shades in the distortion. The blend control only further increases the tone options. I personally think the B7K and Sans amp bass driver sound nothing alike. I disliked the sans amp right away while I bonded with the B7K right away.

    This vid was very informative and helped me pull the trigger.
    wmmj likes this.
  10. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I owned the Alpha/Omega for awhile. It's a really cool pedal, but I no longer own it because I prefer the B7K. It's clearly a matter of taste, as plenty prefer the A/O. You seem to have done your research on the B7K, so I'd suggest checking out A/O videos to see which you prefer. I do agree with you that the B7K has better bite/sizzle. The A/O could well be stronger in the lows, but I'm able to EQ the B7K to give me as much bottom as I want. I'll add that the distortion texture is different: the B7K is smoother, the A/O is more coarse/rough. I'm being descriptive, not pejorative: the A/O roughness is nasty in a good way. But I happen to prefer the texture of the B7K/B7KU.
    cataract likes this.
  11. Being and Bass

    Being and Bass

    Apr 9, 2017


    Either Darkglass is a great choice (check out the Alpha-Omega, and even the Vintage Microtubes) but it is not an either/or situation. You can run the Darkglass set a little less harsh and use the OBD-3 to drive it into pure, outrageous dirt. I've got the EHX Hot Wax giving me a 1-2-3 combo for a lot of tonal variation at the drop of three switches. YMMV but it is something to consider: playing bass is all about experimenting!
    FaithNoMan, zapped777 and cataract like this.
  12. DeadbeatLine


    Nov 13, 2013
    Interesting! If only I had the budget to warrant both the A/O and the B7K Ultra but hey ho. I think I've decided on the B7K Ultra based off opinions and YouTube videos. Maybe I'll even try it with the Sansamp and the odb-3 for total sonic annihilation!
    wmmj, Fuzzbass and Being and Bass like this.
  13. Being and Bass

    Being and Bass

    Apr 9, 2017
    Keep us up to date with your findings! The best part about the B7KU is that if you aren't 100% in love with it, the resale value is so high you aren't stuck at all.
    DeadbeatLine likes this.
  14. Just a reminder tones are different not better and price doesn't mean your sound will be any greater than your current one.
    RexxRokket likes this.
  15. DeadbeatLine


    Nov 13, 2013
    For any of you still interested, I received a B7k Ultra yesterday and had a couple hours to play around with it.

    FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Very transparent, doesn't change the character of your bass at all (meaning that the quality of the instrument really has a big difference here, instead of masking a bad instrument with layers of pedals, its really going to show its true characteristics, for good or bad.)

    I find the drive to be a little fizzier than I was expecting, but its a fantastic sound by all means, and the actual picked notes are very precise and modern sounding. I did find though that I was often wishing I had a noise gate in the chain just to eliminate some of that fizz after the main fundamental note had run through.

    So, initially, I attempted to use it in such a way that it would replace my Sansamp BDDI as a pre amp. It certainly sounded more 'open' and 'hifi' than the sansamp, and as previously mentioned, doesn't colour at all in such a way that the sansamp is known for, and really shows the characteristics of the bass used. That being said, it has made me realise that actually I do quite like the 'sansamp sound'. I found that the Sansamp had a much deeper low end grunt and weight (and I mean low, not low mids) and a sparklier, chimey-er sound when used with a little drive on the pedal (not enough to noticeable add a grit to the sound, just enough to add a sparkle to the higher notes).

    I tried to replicate this using a little drive to get the sparkle type sound on the B7k, but unfortunately found the drive too fizzy to have it in a subtle way, but I may just still need to find the sweet spot between the gain and blend knob.

    When used in conjunction with the ODB-3 against using the sansamp with the ODB-3, I found that again the darkglass had a much more open sound and could achieve a very modern 'clean' and 'precise' meaty clank, as opposed to the sansamp which is a little rawer, but that the sansamp gave much more low end heft and seemingly has the high mids in a more favourable position for me, which I feel is around the 2.5k region, around about where for me personally atleast is the sweet spot where clank turns into bite.

    Finally, using it as a drive to replace the ODB-3 in conjunction with the Sansamp;

    This needs further experimentation for sure but I found that this might be my favourite way to use it currently. Much clearer sounding than the ODB-3, but this could possibly be argued by some people to sound a little cold and sterile. I did find that the bass knob on the ODB-3 seems to be adjusting a lower frequency (which I prefer) than the bass knob on the darkglass. That being said, the Darkglass was most likely better than the ODB-3 for me in 75% of my playing situations. When playing through my bands songs, there was only a few select times where I'd prefer the ODB-3 over the Darkglass.

    Haven't really experimented with the total sonic annihilation of using both at the same time yet! But will be sure to get up to some mad scientist-esque things in no time im sure.


    I think all of this has made me realise that maybe I actually prefer the overly-coloured 'Sansamp' sound that so many people don't like the BDDI for. Admittedly not showing the true character of the bass is a bit annoying especially if you have a really good sounding one (My P-Bass for example would probably prefer the darkglass), but I find that if you keep the blend at around halfway or even less you can get a good blend of both. I will require further experimentation of using it to replace the ODB-3 in my chain, and these are all only first impressions after using it for a couple hours (not in a live/band mix yet either) and may well completely change!

    Because I'm in the UK and ordered from GAK, they have a 7 day no-questions return policy. I'm somewhat tempted after a couple more days of experimenting to possibly return it and get the Alpha Omega. Jon Stockman uses an ODB-3 into an Ampeg SVT-II Pro (the same amp as me by chance) and I'm pretty sure the Alpha Omega was crafted around these sort of tones, almost like a 'what if we made an even better ODB-3 into Ampeg-type sound' which could be really up my street.
  16. dave_bass5


    May 28, 2004
    London, UK.
    Good review and very helpful. I gave up my BDDI a few years ago and went to the Darkglass side, but always felt something was lacking (or missing). Ive now realised i too like the coloured tone of the BDDI so now have another.
    I still have a VMT which sounds good, but not as good as my BDDI. I do keep the blend down quite a bit on the BDDI though.

    Saying that, when i play at home with headphones on i use a Zoom B3n, with a BDDI in to a B7K patch. I love this combo so much that i was very tempted to get a real B7K. It was only the cost that put me off. Maybe i will get one one day, but for now i find the £45 Joyo Orange Juice gives me almost the same tone as the one i get from the B3n patch.
    MDBass and DeadbeatLine like this.
  17. gregmon79

    gregmon79 I did it for the muff... Supporting Member

    Dec 20, 2012
    Chicago IL

    I've preached the B7K + ODB3 combo for years. They sound glorious together. I only went away from that because I wanted to try different things. I would still be using that combo if I didnt have such bad GAS or curiosity.
    DeadbeatLine likes this.
  18. DeadbeatLine


    Nov 13, 2013
    It definitely for sure works effectively! I just found that the BDDI gave a little more low end heft and a clankier, gruntier hi-mid.
    gregmon79 likes this.
  19. AdamR

    AdamR Supporting Member

    Sep 24, 2007
    Bethel CT
    I love the dark glass tone when everyone else uses it. Ive tried a few times, B3K, B7K Ultra and ended up with another Sans Amp. I just couldn't get what I wanted. Perhaps I should have tried the Vintage Microtubes.
    SerratedBass and DeadbeatLine like this.
  20. DeadbeatLine


    Nov 13, 2013
    Is the Vintage Microtubes voiced towards that more classic ampeg-y type of tone?
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